What Is a VFX Supervisor?
The VFX Supervisor has overall responsibility for the production of visual effects on the film or TV project that they are working on. It is up to them to make sure the technical and artistic quality of the finished shots is of the standard agreed on with the Director and other production staff.
What Is The Job?
A VFX Supervisor is brought into a film or TV project at its earliest stages. They will work directly with the project’s producer and director as they go over the script and sort out the VFX needs for every shot. As a VFX Supervisor, you must understand and interpret the Director’s intentions, and at the same time be conscious of the project’s budget constraints. You’ll work in collaboration with the Post-Production Manager on tasks such as budgeting, planning and client relations.
The VFX Supervisor will be involved in all stages of production; pre-production, filming, and post-production. In pre-production, the VFX Supervisor will prepare the visual effects production breakdown, and will be responsible for anticipating problems, as well as tackling any present issues as they arise. On top of this, they will play an active role in participating in visual effects production breakdown, and will also have the opportunity to recruit and manage production teams. Due to the fact that so many shots of a film or show must be oriented around the VFX, having the VFX Supervisor involved in pre-production can save time and make the visual effects process much more efficient.
Following this, the VFX supervisor will work with his or her team of Animators, Modellers, and Concept Artists to create prototype effects for the Director and Producer to examine. Once these prototypes have been approved, the VFX Supervisor works with the director to plan each shot, and determine it’s specific setup in terms of visual effects.
In the filming stage of production, the VFX Supervisor will retrieve filming information and will oversee the necessary on-set installations for the filming of sequences. This part of the role will involve supervising VFX shots and ensuring green screens, motion capture, and other technologies are installed correctly. Different Directors have different approaches, but in many cases, shots from the set are edited and sent to the studio individually, allowing the VFX team to work on special effects while the film is still shooting.
In post-production, the VFX Supervisor will oversee the addition of effects to every shot of the film, based on any last minute changes that the Director wishes to make. Once the Director is happy with the final product, the VFX team will begin the final renders. Following this, the VFX Supervisor will maintain communications between the Director and the production team.
If you’re keen to know more about what a VFX Supervisor does, take a look at this interview with Sony’s VFX Supervisor, Daniel Kramer:
- Understanding of film production processes.
- Excellent organisational and communication skills.
- Knowledge of various 2D/3D software packages, such as Maya and Nuke.
- Ability to supervise and assign tasks to a team.
- Extensive knowledge of VFX production.
- Good leadership skills.
Salary & Working Hours
As with most jobs in the film industry, the level of pay is highly dependent on the type of production you’re working on – the size, how well known it will be, the Director, and many other factors can affect the rate of pay.
Working hours can be long, especially with looming deadlines, clients changing their requirements and unexpected problems requiring immediate attention. A typical day may start at 9am but finish anytime between 6.30pm and 4am. It’s not unusual to work late or at weekends as deadlines approach.
How To Become a VFX Supervisor
To become a VFX Supervisor, a degree in and film and television production, computer animation, or a related subject is highly recommended. In addition to this, knowledge and experience using visual effects and animation software systems such as Maya, Nuke and LightWave is likely to be required by most employers. Outside of formal education, YouTube can be a fantastic way to learn about different types of VFX software, and how to use them. There are many tutorials and demos available – so you can continuously improve your skills.
As a relatively senior position, you’ll need to begin your career in an entry-level role in post-production, and roles that teach basic skills like rotoscoping or photo retouching can be immensely helpful. Other entry-level jobs that can begin a career in VFX include being a Production Assistant or Post Production Runner.
Where Can It Take You?
The role of VFX Supervisor is quite a high level role, and therefore in terms of advancement, options are likely to be limited. Working your way up to become a VFX Supervisor will take a lot of work. However, once you’ve accomplished it, advancement is likely to be through the opportunity to work on bigger, and more well-known projects. As you build up experience as a VFX Supervisor, you will most likely be given more opportunities and it will become easier to get work as your network of contacts grows.
Become a VFX Supervisor
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest VFX Supervisor vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest vacancies here.